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More than $100m lost on Wyndham pokies

Mon, Aug 12, 11:55am by Staff Writer

In excess of $106 million has been lost on pokies in Wyndham in the last financial year.

Latest data from the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor regulation, reported by the Star Weekly reveals that between July last year and June this year, $106,057,102 was lost in Wyndham compared to $105,458,372 in the previous 12 months.

Wyndham recorded the eighth highest loss from poker machines in the state in 2018-19, with Brimbank topping the list in Victoria with more than $142 million in losses.

The Alliance for Gambling Reform last month said that Victorians lost a total of $2.698 billion on poker machines in the 2018-19 financial year.

Alliance spokesman Reverend Tim Costello said poker machines lead to the loss of far more than money.

“In extreme cases, poker machines cause the loss of lives via suicide,” Rev Costello said.

“Then there is the loss of homes, families, relationships, jobs, cars and much more due to gambling harm.

“Pokies dens are designed to fleece people regardless of socio-economic background or geography, and especially target people who may be feeling isolated or lonely – that’s predatory behaviour.”

Wyndham council is a part of the Alliance for Gambling Reform.

In November last year, the council expressed disappointment in a state government decision to allow the number of electronic gaming machines in Wyndham to increase from 903 to 983, from 2022 onwards.

Mitchell Shire wants pokies warning messages

Mitchell Shire Council is calling on the state government to introduce warning signs on all poker machines in the state.

The North Central Review reported in April the council is calling for the change in a further stance against poker machines.

Deputy mayor David Atkinson moved the motion, which was seconded by Cr Annie Goble, and passed unanimously.

The stand comes after council made a submission to the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation opposing the application for an additional 20 machines at Hogan’s Hotel in Wallan.

Cr Atkinson said pokies were the most addictive form of gambling and there was a fundamental issue with the product.

“Electronic gaming machines are designed to keep you playing and programmed to lose money. Stronger regulation is needed to make our community healthier,” he said.

“There are a lot of people, often the ones who can’t afford it, that get addicted to these machines. These people need to have in front of their face that the machines are designed to make them lose.”

Cr Atkinson likened the messages to those used on retail tobacco packaging in Australia.

“These warnings provide a clear message about harmful health consequences of tobacco products,” he said.

“Mandating public health product warning messages stating, ‘this machine is designed to keep you playing and programmed for you to lose money’, clearly visible on each machine to anyone who is using would ensure those using the machines are provided with evidence-based warning message.”

Cr Goble applauded the motion.

“Sadly, I believe the power of poker machine operators is too great and this outcome is highly unlikely,” she said.

“I think it will be fought against and we could possibly compromise with signs in venues or bathrooms,” she said.

Reasons Hogan’s was given 20 new poker machines

Gaming machines not reaching their cap in Mitchell Shire and ‘no net detriment’ to the community were two reasons detailed in a report by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation’s decision to accept an application by Hogan’s Hotel to install 20 extra gaming machines, despite council’s appeals.

The North Central Review reported in May that the 20 extra machines will take the Wallan hotel’s gaming machine numbers to 85.

The report released on Friday says granting the application would not see the Shire reach its regional cap for gaming machines – following the removal of all poker machines from Wandong’s Magpie and Stump hotel.

The application was approved on the condition that the works to the gaming room are completed before the new machines are in operation and Hogan’s Hotel increases its community contributions to $100,000 per year.

Economic benefits identified include expenditure on capital words and additional employment while social benefits identified include improved facilities and the impact of the community contributions.

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